Title: Ace of Shades
Author: Amanda Foody
Genre: Young Adult-Fantasy
Release Date: April 10th, 2018
Buy This Book: Amazon/Audible (affiliate link)
Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.
Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.
Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.
Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…
And she’ll need to play.
This book will surprise you. To be honest, at first I didn’t expect myself to love it as much as I did. The city it is set in, New Reynes, reminded me of Las Vegas just under a different name. The main character, Enne, was naive and sheltered, but also very judgmental and even snobbish. In the first couple chapters, she was increasingly frustrating – making obvious mistakes and looking down on the people she was asking for help. I almost gave up on reading it just because I couldn’t stand her character. But don’t let the beginning fool you! The slow start leads to action-packed suspense. The annoying character traits at the beginning allow for rich character development throughout the story. This book ended up being such a wonderful surprise!
I absolutely LOVE the world that Amanda Foody created with New Reynes – a “City of Sin”, full of casinos, card games, gambling, extravagant shows, street gangs, and dangerous secrets. Yes, at first glance Las Vegas came to mind right away. But the more I read, the more I realized that New Reynes is actually very distinct and imaginative. Foody’s attention to details while building this world is incredible, including a rich political history wrought with corruption, greed, and an overthrown government. Everything from the architecture of the buildings to the assorted street names to the lines between the different socioeconomic classes is so well thought out and detailed. Of course, the most glaringly obvious difference between this world and the real-life Las Vegas is the magic, which is unique and complex, and perfectly interwoven into the story. I was really intrigued by the concept of blood and split talents – powers being passed down through bloodlines – and I’m curious to see what combinations of blood and split talents we’ll see in the future books.
The characters in this story are real and believable and refreshingly diverse! One of the main characters is black and bisexual, but they don’t use that label. It’s just casually in there, as it shows him having romantic interactions with both men and women, without addressing it directly or making a big deal out of it. Also, Enne’s mother, Lourdes, is essentially genderqueer or genderfluid. She is often described as sometimes a man and sometimes a woman. All of the characters’ interactions with each other, their behaviors and dialogues, are well-written and believable. Even the romance is developed slowly and true to life.
My one big pet peeve? I found the made-up swear words to be rather annoying. So annoying, in fact, that I took a full star off the rating. To illustrate my point, here are a few quick quotes:
“You must be mucking with me.”
“Don’t. Mucking. Move.”
“There’s no mucking way.”
I’ve seen a lot of other reviewers compare this book to Six of Crows. Unfortunately, I still haven’t read Six of Crows yet (it’s on my never-ending TBR list) so I can’t say anything about that comparison. However, I found this book to be a pleasant surprise and an excellent start to a new series. It would be a perfect 5 star book without the weird censoring, but as it stands, I’m giving it 4/5 stars.
Thank you to Harlequin Teen and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for my honest review.
Amanda Foody has always considered imagination to be our best attempt at magic. After spending her childhood longing to attend Hogwarts, she now loves to write about immersive settings and characters grappling with insurmountable destinies. She holds a Masters in Accountancy from Villanova University, and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from the College of William and Mary. Currently, she works as a tax accountant in Philadelphia, PA, surrounded by her many siblings and many books.
ACE OF SHADES is the first novel of THE SHADOW GAME series, releasing April 10, 2018. Her debut, DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY, released in July 2017.
Author Link: http://www.amandafoody.com